A black Saturday for Karavali

The aircraft had crashed at 6.02 am. But by 8 am, thousands of people had gathered at the crash site in Kenjar and thousands of vehicles made a beeline on all approach roads to the crash site.

As thousands of people started thronging the region, police had a tough time in managing the crowd. Hundreds of volunteers offered their help — be it recovering the bodies, carrying the bodies, supplying water and food to the rescuers and so on. As the crash site was a deep valley, the relatives of the passengers as well as the curious public had a tough time in reaching the spot.

Roads closed

As the number of crowd started increasing, the police stopped the vehicles at Kavoor (coming from Mangalore) and Bajpe (coming from Kateel/Kaikamba/Surathkal). A number of people walked a long distance to reach the site as the police did not allow their vehicles near the site.

Rumours galore

Right from the time the news of the aircraft crash spread, rumours were making the rounds on various issues that included “the reason for the crash,” “number of survivors” and “the number of deceased.” In fact, confusion prevailed among the members of the public for a long time on whether the flight was landing or taking off, at the time of the crash.

Politicians compete

MP Nalin Kumar was one among the firsts to reach the crash site. He was followed by MLAs Yogish Bhat, K Abhayachandra Jain, B Ramanath Rai, MP D V Sadananda Gowda, former ministers B Nagaraj Shetty and B Janardhan Poojary. Poojary also carried a body till the ambulance. Shetty was found managing the crowd.

Though CM B S Yeddyurappa was supposed to reach the site around 10.30 am, the denial of permission to land his chopper forced him to go to Hassan from where he came by car. Home Minister V S Acharya and Minister J Krishna Palemar accompanied him.

But, Union Minister Praful Patel was the first one among the ministers to reach the crash site. Kerala Health Minister Srimathi Teacher and Kasargod MLA Kunhabbu joined him. Later, Kerala CM V S Achuthanandan and Union Minister S M Krishna joined them.

Rescue operations

The rescue operations went on till night. The last body was recovered around 8 pm. However, the black box is yet to be recovered and the authorities concerned are hopeful of recovering the same by Sunday.

Fire brigade in ditch

Over 15 fire brigades were pressed into service while over 10 hospital ambulances camped at the site. In fact, there was a kind of competition among the hospital staff in the initial stages to carry the bodies.

One of the new huge ultra modern fire brigades belonging to Airport Authority of India slipped into a roadside ditch when it tried to give way to the oncoming vehicle, on the narrow Adyapady road.

First major tragedy

Its unfortunate that the aircraft crashed exactly one week after the New Integrated Terminal Building (NITB) was inaugurated by Union Minister Praful Patel. He had announced that a sum of Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned to extend the runway by 1,000 feet (approximately 150 metres on either side).

Would an extended runway helped the pilot to avoid the first major tragedy in Mangalore airport, is a question remains unanswered.  Whatever it is, the air crash involving Air Bus Boeing 737-800 would be remembered by the people of coastal region for years to come.

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